Sunday, July 3

Touching The Void – Bristol Old Vic at Home

After a successful and critically acclaimed West End run, David Greig’s tense play based on Joe Simpson’s bestselling mountaineering memoir is brought to the live streaming platform by Bristol Old Vic.

Touching The Void is a play about the human spirit and the need to survive under extreme and dangerous circumstances.

The story is set in the perilous Peruvian Andes where climbers Joe (Josh Williams) and Simon (Angus Yellowlees) are facing the treacherous descent of the infamous Siula Grande Mountain.

Greig’s lean and powerful script plays out like a nail biting thriller as we see both climbers struggle to survive not just the unforgiving weather conditions but the mountain itself. When one of the climbers slips during their descent, all bets are off as the real tension builds and the play gathers at a tremendous pace towards its heart stopping and uplifting climax.

The staging for a play that is largely set on and around the mountain itself would be a challenge for any director but here Tom Morris displays great vision and verve in translating script to stage and he is well served with an inventive and quite astonishing rotating set design created by Ti Green.

The use of different camera angles, a fantastic 3D soundscape alongside imaginative lighting and effects give the whole production a real sense of hyper reality and urgency.

Both Williams and Yellowlees exude great energy and physicality in what must be quite demanding roles and you just want both of their characters to survive their terrifying ordeal, it really is quite edge of the seat stuff!

Off mountain we see Sarah, Joe’s sister (Fiona Hampton) who doesn’t really get the whole “I see a mountain and I want to climb it” thing, Hampton gives a warm and witty performance as does Patrick McNamee as Richard, the nerdy friend of the climbers – between the two of them they narrate the story and interact in some scenes with Joe and Simon.

All four actors give superb performances but for me the stand outs were Hampton and Williams.

The script is well balanced throughout offering some humorous respite from the terrifying situation that the two young climbers find themselves in but the script never lets the audience off the hook and we are soon straight back into a life or death situation.

Touching the Void is a powerful and intelligent piece of theatre that boasts striking design and dazzling imagination – definitely one not to be missed!

Available to stream until 29th May 2021 via https://bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/touching-the-void

Reviewer: Kiefer Williams

Reviewed: 26th May 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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